Mini-League meets Ivy’ League

Have you ever felt way out of your comfort zone? Did you ever try challenging or sharing your input with someone who completely outweigh your own experience and competence? Presenting something to them that they know 20 times better than you? That’s scary! A mini league player entering Ivy League.


Scary is good. Fear causes change. It’s good in the sense that it sharpens you, and makes you more humble. If you make a complete fool of yourself that’s also useful, both for your ego and for exploring how you could do better. 

It’s also important in the context of your own personal and professional development, stretching your limits while testing and training your ability to do things you didn’t really consider yourself competent for – or secure enough to approach.

Today, I gave a speech at the Höegh head office, where I felt way outside my comfort zone (which is, by the way, quite wide – as I don’t really take myself too seriously). I got a serious case of nerves!

In general I used to be quite insecure, and that’s also why I knew this was a good thing to expose myself towards – tackling fear by approaching what you fear is healthy!


My first and most scary experience on a stage was back in 2010, when I stood in front of 300 executives giving my first ever public speech; challenging some of shipping’s super stars on the image of shipping. 


I was a co-initiator of the Oslo Shipping Exchange, the first joint project YoungShip did with the senior organisations, and the other guys wanted someone young and/or a woman on the panel to even out the following diverse profile; Pareto’s Erik Helberg, Axel Eitzen, Peter Anker, Calle Steen, Rolf Wikborg, Jens Ismar. I was 27 and just a project coordinator… I contacted a female next gen shipowner, but she wanted more experience before sharing her industry perspectives. In fact, we didn’t succeed in finding any young females to challenge the industry (it wasn’t really that common yet). So, I the guys told me to do it myself….

Industry legends Westye Höegh and Fred. Olsen were on the front row, and I was just an incompetent, rookie without a clue of real business. I wished for a sinking hole to digest me… So I made the task easy; challenging a whole bunch of high-level people about the image and attractiveness of shipping… Had no idea if the reactions would be eggs and tomatoes, or just frowns.

And after my presentation, Peter Anker of Platou literaly chopped my head of in the bar – completely disagreeing with my thoughts and views. I probably would never again have entered a stage with a microphone hadn’t it been for the opposite feedback from Herman Billung of Golden Ocean, who was really enthusiastic. That one nudge was all I needed; what a feeling…!

Nowadays, while still nervous ahead, it rarely compares. But today I had a deja vu experience for a while;

I was invited to speak at the Family Business Network, about diversity in boards and perspectives on recruitment and evaluation of board members, during their seminar on ownership and board work in family owned companies. I thought it primarily consisting of young owners.

However; A span of really high level seniors weren among the participants. Leaders of excellent and big companies!

I’m nowhere near their competence on boardwork, but with an HR perspective and equipped with some board experience both as an outsider and family owners’ rep. I’ve spotted some challenge areas seeking to make people think outside the box to explore the new business opportunities..

Here are a few tidbits for you, as I’m just a tad engaged on diversity issues, and get truly concerned about the direction we steer towards when diversity is only about “white male50+white female 50+” and we don’t even achieve that span yet. Pardon my Norwegian, and note that the mobile print screen causes some hickups

We need diversity beyond genders; multiculturally, digitally!! Now board people – get to work!

// Birgit

#BoardDiversity #WhyWhatHowWho 

Leadership & values Shipping Working mom

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